“Does being overweight have anything to do with my chronic headaches?”

Normal weight people with migraine have around a 3% chance of developing chronic headaches in a year. If they are overweight, they have 3 times that chance. With obesity, the chance of chronic migraine increases 5 times.

Obesity has not been found to cause migraines, only to increase their frequency. Both conditions however are associated with the release of pain generating hormones, and perhaps there is an additive effect. Migraine has also been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and this may relate to higher levels of insulin, glucose and cholesterol in migraine patients.

Keeping track of your weight is therefore important, and there are a few issues to consider:

  • Several oral medications prescribed to treat migraine can be associated with weight gain, and its important to be aware of this. Certainly this is one of the benefits of injection therapy for migraine, as weight gain and or changes in appetite are not associated with this treatment.
  •  Keep active, and in fact regular aerobic exercise has been shown to result in fewer headaches.
  •  Make sure your doctor monitors your cardiovascular risks, controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and not smoking, are all important to lessen your risk of a heart attack or a stroke.

If you are overweight, addressing this issue, as part of your entire migraine treatment strategy can result in better health overall, with the added benefit of less headaches!

Note: Information on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

References: Headache: 2013 American Headache Society, Tepper MD